Discussions with market and financial sources on fashion and retail trends last year raised some interesting ideas on what is percolating in the marketplace. The following are a few that were mentioned that could show some strong legs in 2013, with the impact of having everyone rethinking what 2014 could bring.
OVERSEAS FIRM TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Rakuten Inc., a Japanese Internet service firm founded in 1997, provides a B2B2C marketplace platform that is shop-centric, compared with competitors that are product focused. Three years ago, the firm decided to grow beyond its domestic borders and in 2010 acquired the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Buy.com for $250 million through Rakuten USA. Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer, said, “Because Rakuten’s e-commerce operation is a business marketplace platform, we act as a facilitator and, unique among our competitors, allow the individual businesses to customize their own storefronts on our site.” Look for Vau.lt, now in beta testing, to launch early this year, the latest U.S. direct-to-consumer site under Rakuten’s umbrella. In addition, Derek Wall, Vau.lt’s chief executive officer, said Rakuten will launch a Rakuten user ID early next year that will allow each holder to access any Rakuten-operated site anywhere in the world. Rakuten in May also led a consortium that invested $100 million in Pinterest. EBay and Amazon will still be megaplayers, but Rakuten’s B2B2C platform could be where the action is this year. RELATED STORY: Stronger Growth Expected in Second Half >>
PERSON TO WATCH: Yehuda Shmidman joined Sequential Brands Group as its new chief executive officer in November. The former chief operating officer at Iconix Brand Group was involved in many mergers and acquisitions initiatives, and helped grow the small five-fashion brand firm when he joined in 2005 to a company with more than 25 brands generating more than $360 million in licensing revenues. Sequential last month acquired Heelys Inc. for $63.2 million, and Shmidman is on the prowl for more deals.
CONSUMER CREDIT AT RETAIL: Conns, a home goods and electronics retailer, offers a variety of proprietary credit options that make it easier for many subprime consumers to buy what they need. According to David Galper, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets who is also head of the retail and apparel investment banking group, said, “This credit expertise is a significant competitive advantage as it drives loyalty and profitability.” While some retailers such as Kmart reinstituted a related concept called the layaway plan, Conns allows working middle class consumers to actually take their purchases home while making low monthly payments on an installment plan.
BRAND MANAGEMENT WARS: In the last few years, Iconix Brand Group had the lock as leader in the brand management category. Sequential Brands Group and Authentic Brands Group are the latest entrants in the new category of acquirers with an eye on licensing. Last month, Sequential acquired the intellectual property assets of Heelys Inc., while Authentic bought the brands under the former HMX Group umbrella that includes Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman. While all three are looking for new deals, the new entrants might have the advantage — as upstarts, they don’t need big deals to move the needle.
AMERICAN FASHION IN VOGUE: Is 2013 the year for the American designer in fashion? Financial and creative sources say yes, as the American aesthetic features wearable and versatile apparel that can go from day to night at affordable price points. Think Rag & Bone and Sophie Theallet. And while overseas aspirational consumers used to first hit the high-end European luxury brands, accessibility to information online via e-commerce sites has broadened their horizons at a far faster pace than ever before. In particular, Asian consumers who want to express their own unique identities no longer want to wear what their next-door neighbors are wearing. So it may be the American designers who win market share in 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty